Café Šlágr on Francouzská Street, a short distance from Náměstí Míru (Peace Square), evokes the peaceful atmosphere of a summer afternoon during the First Republic, going back to the time of great hopes and the heyday of Czechoslovakia between the two world wars. This is reflected in the local furniture, music, and also the giant size of the desserts, which is the same as it used to be in pastry shops a hundred years ago.
Although in Šlágr they try to give the impression of “we have returned to the 1920s” as accurately as possible, the recipes are adapted to modern times because nutrition principles are different today. However, their pastry chef Majka Štefányová, baked some of the most popular desserts for us, cream puffs, yolk cream rings, and bananas, the way they were baked back then. (The main difference is that at that time, choux pastry dough was made from flour, milk, and butter; today it is lighter – from flour, water, and oil).
CHOUX PASTRY DOUGH
28 dkg of plain flour
½ liter of milk
28 dkg of butter
12 eggs (approximately, may vary depending on egg size)
a pinch of salt (without adding salt, the dough would bake quickly on the surface, but the inside would be insufficiently dried, and the pastry would fall; and vice versa – if we wanted it to be sufficiently baked inside, the surface would be burnt)
1. Add the butter to the milk and bring both to a boil.
2. Add all the flour and mix at a moderate temperature until the dough forms a homogeneous ball.
3. Let the mass cool a little, then whisk the eggs into it.
4. Shape the whipped dough onto the baking sheet with a piping bag with a wide star nozzle. Before that, either grease the baking tray with 100 % fat or line it with baking paper.
Watch the video to see how to create each shape. For bananas, it is essential not to press just a straight strip of dough onto the baking tray but to have layered ends. The pastry chef of the Šlágr Cafe, Majka Štefányová, shows why in the picture – a linearly applied layer of dough would not be pretty after baking, and the resulting shape would not be possible to cut and fill with cream. At least not so much that someone would want to buy such an ugly dessert.
5. Bake in the oven preheated to 200 °C for approximately 20 minutes. We judge by the color – the baked dough must not be too light; otherwise, it would not hold its shape and fall through.
Once cooled, cut the shapes lengthwise, fill them with cream, and top with glaze. The glaze is different for each dessert, although the dough and baking are the same.
Cream Puff (“Větrník”)
We fill the cream puffs with two layers of cream. The first is pudding with whipped cream; the second is caramel and whipped cream.
A) If you have powdered pudding (customary in the Czech Republic)
1 liter of milk
10 dkg of semolina sugar
10 dkg of vanilla pudding
1. Mix vanilla pudding in approx. 200 ml of milk.
2. Pour the sugar into 800 ml of milk and bring to a boil.
3. Pour the mixed pudding powder and milk into the boiling milk with sugar and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Let the pudding cool. We can cover its surface with clingfilm so that no crust is formed. We must remove the crust after cooling if we don’t want to use the clingfilm.
B) If you have instant pudding that does not need to be cooked, you will need a liter of the instant pudding.
1. Cream – Pudding and Whipped Cream
The volume ratio of whipped cream and pudding should be 1:1. If the whipped cream is poorly whipped, the cream could be too runny. Then, it is better to put a little more pudding than whipped cream. Whisk the pudding in a whisk, then lightly mix the whipped cream into it by hand, ideally with a smooth pastry card, but this is not a requirement.
2. Cream – Caramel and Whipped Cream
whipping cream (min. 33 % fat)
the ratio of both ingredients is according to your taste
1. Melt the sugar – pour it into a pot and heat it dry, stirring constantly, until it caramelizes (without stirring, the caramel would burn); it has a brown color and the consistency of thicker honey.
2. Pour the cream into the caramelized sugar and bring to a boil. We pour the cream warm – if it is cold, nothing will happen, but we will have to boil it all the longer. Cook until all the pieces of caramelized sugar are dissolved.
You have to be careful when mixing the caramel and the cream because a lot of steam escapes from the pot (the caramel is around 300°C at this stage, and even when we pour in the warm cream, there is a big temperature difference). So it’s good to use a longer wooden spoon so that we can stand a little further away.
After boiling, let it cool until the next day.
Then we mix the caramel mass, which has hardened slightly by morning, with additional cream (33% fat) and whip everything into a cream. We fill a pastry bag with cream and spray it as a second layer of cream in cream puffs.
Yolk Cream Ring and Banana (“Věneček” a “Banánek”)
Cream for yolk cream rings and bananas: pudding + butter + rum or rum flavoring.
We use 8 dkg of butter per liter of pudding.
Prepare the pudding and let it cool. Add butter that is at room temperature and whisk it into the pudding. Then whisk the filling even more and add rum or rum flavoring.
Cream puffs have one filling, and the bananas have a second layer of whipped cream.
The glaze is the same for cream puffs and yolk cream rings – fondant diluted with water. The only difference is that the surface of the cream puffs is darker, colored with caramel color.
The preparation of fondant is simple but physically demanding. We boil sugar with water; the mass must have the consistency of a thicker mixture. Then, the mass is mixed with a wooden spoon until white. It is very laborious, so the easiest way is to buy ready-made fondant, already processed in a melanger.
We heat to body temperature, roughly 37 °C. When heating, dilute the fondant with water so that the tops of the cream puffs and yolk cream rings can be dipped in it.
Caramel food coloring is used to color the fondant on the top of the cream puffs. We can also buy it ready-made or cook it ourselves – it is made in the same way as caramel, only water is poured into it instead of cream.
Chocolate for Bananas
Melt the chocolate in a water bath. Thin it to the required consistency by adding clarified butter or 100% fat (if ordinary butter were added, the chocolate would harden, and we would not be able to dip the bananas in it).
Baked shapes from choux pastry dough are not compact – they are puffy, so after cutting, we have two halves of the future dessert in front of us, which are mainly hollow. We spray the filling into this space. Spray the whipped pudding with whipped cream on the bottom part. The second layer is whipped caramel with whipped cream.
Dip the top part in the fondant colored with the caramel color and cover.
Yolk Cream Rings
For yolk cream rings, the procedure is similar – cut them and spray the bottom part with pudding cream. Wet the top part in the fondant mixture and cover.
It is the same procedure again. Slice the baked pastry lengthwise. Apply the same cream as for the yolk cream rings on the lower part and add whipped cream over it. Dip the top part in melted chocolate and cover.